School District 9 has a history of making national headlines: they had the longest school closure in the nation’s history and created news inquiries from around the world on what erroneously was called “the kissing law.” Last week, they once again made history as, according to Oregon School Boards Association, they became the first school district in the state to pass a resolution regarding school color and mascot.
A resolution before the board was said “three of the four schools named in Board Policy JFCCA are in compliance, and whereas Eagle Point High School is not in compliance and is the primary reason for policy JFCCA and whereas the colors of Eagle Point High School have been Royal Blue and Athletic Gold for close to sixty years, and whereas the School Board desires to unify the students and alumni through Eagle Point High Schools official schools colors of Royal Blue and Athletic Gold. The School Board of Jackson County School District 9 directs the Superintendent to make all necessary changes to bring Eagle Point High School into compliance with Board Policy JFCCA, OFFICIAL SCHOOL COLORS AND TEAM NAMES AND MASCOTS through the regularly budgeted replacement cycle and before September 1st, 2016.”
Prior to business of the day, several community members addressed the board. Sarah Erickson, a 2004 graduate of EPHS, class valedictorian and athlete, expressed concern when graduates can’t use good grammar in Letters to the Editor, yet the school board is concerned about school colors. She said she thought they need to be concerned regarding the education of students. Erickson said she hoped the board would set its own tradition and not get caught up in board politics.
Former school board member Alan Curriston headlined his presentation “respect and goodwill.” He said he was fairly sympathetic to the policy presented at the last board meeting regarding reimbursing the board to attend activities. He suggested a contact with the athletic department might resolve that issue. He also reminded board members of state ethics regulations.
Regarding school colors, Curriston said that probably was a school-community decision.
Curriston said in 1991 the Oregon Education Act of the 21st Century took most of the authority of a local board and put it at the state level. This includes finance, curriculum and many personnel items.. But he said the board has greater responsibility to use respect and goodwill. Curriston used more than his allotted three minutes and Board Chair Scott Grissom advised him his time was up. Curriston continued, saying the board’s authority doesn’t go beyond their table. “It would be nice to see more humility,” said Curriston, as he completed his statement. According to Grissom, Curriston took an additional 1 ½, minutes before he sat down.
As time to discuss the school color issue, which was near the end of the evening agenda, board member Ted Dole said, “the number one thing when we develop policy is to ask- does it benefit student achievement? What you are doing absolutely opposed OSBA training that we just had.”
“This should be a school issue,” said board member Mary Ann Olsen.
The vote on the school color resolution was 3-2, with Scott Grissom, Jim Mannenbach and Mark Bateman voting in favor.
Perhaps of greater importance was some movement toward a new elementary school. Willamette ESD has given the district a two phase proposal to once again consider a school. The first phase would determine requirements. This would entail conducting a needs assessment: meeting with district leadership, reviewing current building plans, developing a preliminary conceptual budget, working with the city, and reporting to the school board. The second phase would involve selecting an architect and contractor and working with the city. The estimate for the two phases is about $30,000 plus reimbursables.
Enrollment figures were not available because the board meeting was on the first day of school. But, it appears District 9 will lose about 60 students to Prospect’s Charter School. If that figure holds, that could have a $300,000 impact two years from now.
In a report on finances during the work session, Business Manager Randy Struckmeier distributed a memo from Kent Hunsaker, of COSA, dated Aug. 27 wherein Hunsaker said the September revenue shows a revenue reduction in the General Fund of $139.1 million and in the lottery revenue of $43.1 million since the end of the legislative session. He said the state’s reserves are now about $315 million, down from about $500 million at the close of the session.
During the work session prior to the board meeting Struckmeier said some additional hires were needed in ELL, at the library in Shady Cove, kindergarten and in playground assistance at a cost of about $347,000. Some unanticipated costs will come as the district prepares for the H1N1 flu (swine flu). Items such as wipes and disinfectants will need to be purchased.
The board unanimously approved changing the name of Connections to Upper Rogue Center for Educational Opportunity (URCEO) or The Center.
A list of 35 board protocols were reviewed during the work session. These included everything from layout in the board room to communicating board to board and board to superintendent. Protocol will be that board members communicate with the board chair and vice-versa. The superintendent and board chair communicate but the superintendent does not communicate directly with board members and vice-versa.
A list of six board agreements was reviewed during the work session. But when it came time for the board to sign the agreements, Grissom said it would not sign it.
District 9 staff can participate in a wellness program this year. Mike Hyland, Lake Creek Learning Center plant engineer, is coordinating the OEA Choice Trust program, it is meant to benefit at least 20 percent (80) bargaining unit members.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent